Trust in the Lord with all thy heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.
In my last blog (see Reflections on Trust) I talked about Proverbs 3:5; today we’ll focus on verse 6, the second part of this well-known Scripture passage.
Right at the start we come up against another “ALL.” We talked last time about the exhortation to trust in the Lord with ALL our heart. This week we see that we are to acknowledge Him in ALL our ways. That word is just so…annoying sometimes! There’s no way around admitting the fact that it includes every little detail of life.
And what does it even mean to “acknowledge Him” in all our ways?
The word translated “acknowledge” is the Hebrew word “yada,” which literally means “to know.” And it’s the kind of “knowing” that is SO much more than head knowledge.
Listen to this:
“…the concept of ‘knowing’ something or someone takes on a special meaning in the Semitic languages, and this specialized meaning has to do with relationship; primarily a relationship that is based upon the making of a covenant.”
God has already established the covenant. He is always pursuing us, desiring that intimate relationship with us. Acknowledging God means living a life that is connected to Him on every level, the doors of communication between us thrown wide open. Learning to know him better, as we talked about last time, leads to trusting Him at ever deeper levels as we begin noticing and recognizing His faithfulness. Living this way makes it so much easier to submit all our ways to Him, because then we can know that whatever happens will be for His glory and our good. One commentator puts it like this:
“Begin, continue, and end every work, purpose, and device, with God. Earnestly pray for His direction at the commencement; look for His continual support in the progress; and so begin and continue that all may terminate in His glory: and then it will certainly be to thy good.” (Adam Clarke)
We used to play a game with the kids in the church youth group that involved blindfolding one participant while a second served as his “guide,” directing him around a series of obstacles while using only verbal commands and attempting to safely lead him to a destination across the room. The blindfolded student had to trust the voice of his guide. He had to listen very carefully to every instruction before taking the next step. He had to let go of his own sense of direction and instinct in order to safely accomplish his goal.
Life is really so much like that game. We may think that we are seeing clearly, but in reality we are walking blindfolded through a life that is filled with pitfalls and obstacles in both the physical and the spiritual realms. We must trust the Voice of our Guide. We must listen very carefully to the instructions that He speaks to us through His Word, through our prayer time, and through the wise counsel of mature believers. We must let go of our own sense of direction and instinct in order to completely surrender to His.
I was reading just the other day about how often God’s direction came to Paul and the other apostles in the New Testament through the “closing of doors:”
“It is interesting to study the way God extended His guidance to these early messengers of the Cross. It consisted mainly in prohibiting their movement when they attempted to take a course other than the right one. When they wanted to turn to the left toward Asia, He stopped them. When they sought to turn to the right, toward Bithynia in Asia Minor, He stopped them again. In his later years, Paul would do some of his greatest work in that very region, yet now the door was closed before him by the Holy Spirit. The time was not yet ripe…” —F.B. Meyer as quoted in “Streams in the Desert”
Sometimes I think our greatest challenge is just to keep moving forward, putting our hand to whatever task God has put before us in this moment or in this season, and trusting Him to open or close the doors before us as He sees fit.
If we acknowledge Him in ALL of our ways, putting His glory and His will above our own desires, we can be confident that He will direct our paths.
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” —Isaiah 30:21